Important information for persons
returning to live permanently in Trinidad and Tobago?
In 1994, Government, in an attempt to encourage nationals to return home, took a decision to grant tax concessions on a motor vehicles and household effects imported by such persons.
The following is a summary of benefits to which a returning national is entitled.
In order to qualify for any relief of taxes, the person must satisfy all the following conditions:-
The person must be eighteen years old and over, and
is a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, or
was formerly a citizen of Trinidad and Tobago, or
has citizenship of two (2) countries, one of which is Trinidad and Tobago, or
is the spouse of a person referred to in sub-paragraphs (a), (b) or (c) above;
The person is the registered owner of the vehicle for at least six (6) months prior to his return to Trinidad and Tobago;
Must have resided abroad for a continuous period of at least five (5) years immediately prior to his return to Trinidad and Tobago;
intends to reside in Trinidad and Tobago permanently;
require the vehicle for his personal use;
must import the vehicle within six (6) months prior to or after his return;
must not sell or transfer the vehicle within two (2) years of its importation.
Once all the above conditions have been satisfied then in the case of a left hand drive vehicle, the importer is not required to obtain an Import Licence.
(B) Relief from Customs Duty
Customs duty is normally payable at the following rates:
Vehicles with an engine size not exceeding 1599 cubic capacity (cc)- 20%
Vehicles with an engine size exceeding 1599 cc but not exceeding 2000 cc - 25%
Vehicles with an engine size exceeding 2000 cc - 30%
Customs duty is based on the Cost, Insurance and Freight (C.I.F.) Value of the Vehicle.
A returning national can benefit from the relief of Customs duty at the following rates:-
where s/he is the registered owner of the vehicle for more than six months but not more than one (1) year, 25% of the duty payable. In other words the importer pays 75% of the duty payable.
where s/he is the registered owner of the vehicle for more than one (1) year but not more than two (2) years, 50% relief of the duty payable
where s/he is the registered owner of the vehicle for more than two (2) years, 90% relief of the duty payable. In other words, the importer pays 10% of the duty payable.
(C) Relief from Value Added Tax (VAT)
Value Added Tax is payable at a rate of 15%. It is calculated in the following manner:
15% of the C.I.F. Value + Customs Duty = VAT Payable
There is no relief from the payment of VAT in respect of a motor vehicle imported by a returning national.
(D) Relief from Motor Vehicle Tax
Motor Vehicle Tax is normally payable at the following rates:
engine size not exceeding 1599 cc Free
engine size exceeding 1599 cc but not exceeding 1799 cc – $ 4.00 per cc
engine size exceeding 1799 cc but not exceeding 1999 cc – $ 8.00 per cc
engine size exceeding 1999 cc but not exceeding 2499 cc – $21.00 per cc
engine size exceeding 2499 cc but not exceeding 2999 cc – $25.00 per cc
engine size exceeding 2999 cc but not exceeding 3499 cc – $30.00 per cc
engine size exceeding 3499 cc – $45.00 per cc
However, a returning national may be granted relief from the payment of Motor Vehicle Tax at identical rates in the case of Customs duty as specified in (b), (aa), (bb) and (cc) above.
Household Effects – Categories
There are two categories of household effects:-
Those which are in the use and possession of the passenger for at least one (1) year - no duties and taxes are payable. Any person can benefit from this measure;
In the case of household effects which are in the use and possession for less than one (1) year, a returning national may be granted tax concessions but must satisfy all the following conditions:-
the national must have resided abroad continuously for at least five (5) years and is returning home to reside permanently;
the household effects must be imported within two (2) months before or after the arrival of the returning of the national or such further period as the Comptroller of Customs and Excise may allow in any special circumstances;
the household effects must be owned by the importer and must not be for sale or exchange;
the goods must be allowed by the Comptroller of Customs and Excise;
the total value of the goods must not exceed a C.I.F. value of $100,000.00 TT.
Relief from duties and taxes
Once the returning national meets the requirements in respect of household effects which have been in his use and possession for less than one (1) year, no Customs duty or VAT is payable on the first $100,000.00 TT. The returning national only pays a Special Tax of 10% of the C.I.F. Value. No other taxes are payable. In amounts exceeding the $100,000.00 TT, each item would attract the respective rate of Customs Duty and VAT.
The item "household effects" shall include such items as air conditioning units, bedding, carpets, clocks, crockery, glassware, cutlery, electrical fans, furniture, record players, household electrical appliances, irons, kitchen and other domestic utensils, lamps, lanterns, household linen, perambulators, pianos, pictures, sewing machines, silver and plated ware, stoves and electrical cooking and heating apparatus, tape recorders, computers and computer hardware, diskettes and other like items.
However, it excludes motor vehicles, building materials, power tools and foodstuffs.
Computer Hardware and Software
Computer hardware (i.e. hard drives, monitors, printers and other peripherals) and software (i.e. diskettes and software on diskettes and Cd Roms) may enter Trinidad and Tobago without the payment of duty.
In order to benefit from the tax concessions the returning national must:-
provide proof of residence abroad, e.g. passport, employment records
provide proof of ownership of vehicle, e.g. registration certificate
provide an affidavit sworn before a local Commissioner
present two (2) passport-size pictures
present a Customs declaration form (Customs entry) in person and attest that a licensed Customs broker prepare the Customs entry.
After the Customs official accepts the Customs entry, Customs duty, VAT and Special Tax (Household effects) are payable to the Customs and Excise Division. Motor Vehicle Tax is payable to the Board of Inland Revenue (Miscellaneous Taxes Section).
***WARNING: Heavy penalties are imposed for false declarations***
The above generally describes the tax concessions from which a returning national may benefit, and are provided for general information. However, discussion in this article must not be substituted for law.
Permanent Mission of Trinidad and Tobago
37-39 Rue de Vermont
1202 Geneva, Switzerland
Telephone: +41.22.918.03.80 ; +41.22.918.03.90
Fax: +41.22.734.91.38 ; +41.22.734.88.26